An article from when one of the steelworks steam locomotive engines was given to the towns parks department is recalled in an issue of the Lysaght’s steelworks magazine in 1964.
At a ceremony in Ashby’s Jubilee Park on 27th April 1964, Lysaght’s works chairman Sir Douglas Bruce-Gardner presented the loco to the then Scunthorpe Borough Council.
The Open Hearth magazine reported: “It so happens that the loco was ready for lifting at about mid-day, when the schools were released for their lunch break. Their curiosity knew no bounds and, therefore, work was suspended temporarily to allow the children to make their first investigations of this novel plaything.”
The idea to present the loco to the town came from Councillor Jack Sturman who was a prominent member of the melting shop at Lysaght’s and the Borough Council.
Recalling that every child’s dream was to be an engine driver, Councillor Sturman felt that one of the locos – then being made redundant by dieselisation – could give great pleasure to the children of the town who already had a steam roller as a toy in one of the other parks.He approached Sir Douglas with the idea and he agreed that it was an excellent idea.
Eventually No15 was selected – an 0-6-0 built in 1941 by Messrs Stevenson and Hawthorn, with the works number 7035. She had been started at their Darlington Works and moved to Newcastle Works for completion. As No.62, she was new to Appleby-Frodingham Steel Co Ltd, Scunthorpe, with 3ft 8in diameter wheels. The life of a steelworks loco is hard and she was rebuilt twice at their well equipped Central Engineering Workshops in 1950 and 1957. Following the almost total dieselisation of the works and as she was one of the last locos in good condition, she was sold with three others (HL 3505, RS 4157 and RSHD 7021) in December 1960 to neighbours John Lysaghts Works Ltd, Normanby Park Steelworks, where she was No.15. Her new task was to haul wagons of molten slag up the heavily graded line to the slag tip, which was some distance from the works. The locos worked bunker first to shield the crews from the intense heat. Following the dieselisation of the Slag Run, her sisters were scrapped in 1963 and No15 was driven under live steam for the last time on 25th June 1963 to the loco sheds by Albert Cross.
During the weeks prior to its installation in the playground, the loco underwent a complete renovation in the Lysaght’s shed. All movable parts were firmly secured to prevent their removal and places like the firebox and chimney were sealed to prevent children getting stuck. At the councils request the loco was painted light blue and white and a commemorative plate was fixed to its side..
Messrs Clugston kindly provided a low loader to transport the loco to its new home.
At Jubilee Park a gang of works plate-layers, under the direction of George Hunter, laid over 100 feet of track to transfer the loco from the entrance to its new resting place. The off-loading and lift of the loco by crane was supervised by foreman rigger, Bill Hercock.
The Loco was removed from Jubilee Park on Friday 8th October 1982 not only to the dismay of many local youngsters but also to a generation of adults who had played on it when they were children.
There was however a furore over the moving of the loco which was seemingly moved ahead of normal council procedures. The opposition groups on Scunthorpe Borough council, the SDP, Liberals and Conservatives felt the axe had been swung on the engine too early.
The engine was removed the Friday before the local authority’s Full Council Meeting which was due to consider the recommendations of it’s Recreation Committee to sell the Stephenson and Hawthorne 0-6-0 Saddle Tank engine to the museum at Tanfield.
The report said the Recreation Committee recommended selling the locomotive after it was discovered the engine was lined with asbestos.
The committee chairman, Councillor Oliver Duffelen, estimated it would cost around £3000 to make the engine safe for the children to continue to play on it.
Councillor Cyril Nottingham, of the SDP, was angered about the removal ahead of official endorsement of the committee’s recommendations by the full council. Other councillors said they knew of people prepared to remove the asbestos at a lower cost than that suggested.
Councillor Duffelen in a subsequent report noted in response to criticism that as a result of the engine being removed no-one in 20 years time would be suffering from a potentially fatal disease as a result of playing on the locomotive as a child.
“Everything that could have possibly been done has been under the supervision of the Health & Safety Commission which insisted that either the lining is removed from the loco or the loco be removed from the park.
“It would have cost at least £3000 to make the loco safe and I decided its heritage would be best preserved in the museum and that it be removed as a matter of urgency.”
He told councillor the loco would be renovated for display at the museum and over a two or three-year span would be returned to its former glory and eventually to working order.
A special plaque would be made to commemorate Scunthorpe as the origin of the loco and it would also feature a brochure, which would go worldwide.
Councillor Duffelen said he had been accused of over reacting to the asbestos fears.
He said, “ Once they get the new playground equipment in Jubilee Park the kids will never miss the loco.”
The loco was transferred to its new home at Tanfield Railways where it was given a new name – Donna – and was to be restored however Since arrival, she has been dismantled and her frames shot blasted. The frames are located in the shed yard and her wheels, cab, bunker and new saddletank are around the site.
It wasn’t all bad news for the children of Scunthorpe, for although they may have lost one of their nostalgic playthings another park in Ashby was set to keep it’s steam engine. A report on 13th December 1982 said the giant steam roller in Everest Park had been given a clean bill of health by Scunthorpe Borough Council.
The steam roller had been bought by the council in 1961 from a private road repairer in Hykeham. The report quoted parks superintendent George Haynes as saying, “ensuring the steam roller was safe had necessitated the spending of £130 on repair work.” The report did however note that the rocking horse was removed after the independent national group, Fair Play for Children, had branded it as dangerous. The report said there was now only one rocking horse in the councils 26 other parks and that was at Central Park.